Use a mortgage calculator to save

Whether you're buying a home, refinancing or just want to know more about your loan, a mortgage calculator can help you avoid spending more than you need to.

Want to take a bigger chunk out of your loan principal? Use the amortization feature on a mortgage calculator to see how much of the monthly payment will go toward principal and interest over the life of your loan.

To run the numbers, you'll need only a few details: the loan amount, the annual interest rate, length of the loan and the start date.

By using the amortization tool, you can see how much money you'll save over the life of the loan if you decide to make extra payments.

Should you refinance?

At some point, many homeowners wonder whether a refinance makes sense. While it's easy to leap at a low new rate, the truth is that the best answer to the refinance question will likely come from using a mortgage calculator.

With the calculator, you can compare the total cost of your current loan against the total cost of the new loan.

Homeowners should give serious consideration to the level of debt they can afford to shoulder. As a general guideline, the monthly payment should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income.

A mortgage calculator can help you run the numbers for each of the properties within your price range.

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